ar·​che·​type | \ˈär-ki-ˌtīp \

Definition of archetype 

1 : the original pattern or model of which all things of the same type are representations or copies : prototype … the House of Commons, the archetype of all the representative assemblies which now meet …— Thomas Babington Macaulay also : a perfect example He is the archetype of a successful businessman.

3 psychology : an inherited idea or mode of thought in the psychology of C. G. Jung that is derived from the experience of the race and is present in the unconscious of the individual

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Other Words from archetype

archetypal \ˌär-​ki-​ˈtī-​pəl \ or less commonly archetypical \-​ˈti-​pi-​kəl \ adjective
an archetypal English village
archetypally \-​pə-​lē \ or less commonly archetypically \-​ˈti-​pi-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

Did You Know?

Archetype derives via Latin from the Greek adjective archetypos ("archetypal"), formed from the verb "archein" ("to begin" or "to rule") and the noun "typos" ("type"). ("Archein" also gave us the prefix arch-, meaning "principal" or "extreme" and used to form such words as "archenemy," "archduke," and "archconservative.") "Archetype" has specific uses in the fields of philosophy and psychology. The ancient Greek philosopher Plato, for example, believed that all things have ideal forms (aka archetypes) of which real things are merely shadows or copies. And in the psychology of C. G. Jung, "archetype" refers to an inherited idea or mode of thought that is present in the unconscious of the individual. In everyday prose, however, "archetype" is most commonly used to mean "a perfect example of something."

Examples of archetype in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

For so long, a single archetype for the lingerie model was shoved down our throats: white, thin, tall, long hair, hourglass figure, full breasts, flat stomach. Jessica Andrews, Teen Vogue, "Rihanna's Savage X Fenty New York Fashion Week Show Celebrated Women," 13 Sep. 2018 His media strategy since the premiere of To All the Boys seems to be pointed with military precision toward the archetype of the moment. Constance Grady, Vox, "Noah Centineo and the rise of the wholesome internet boyfriend, explained," 28 Sep. 2018 Not everyone is quite so obsessed with hierarchy or quite so terrified of powerful women — sorry, of the negative female archetype, the Great Mother, the Dragon — as Professor Jordan Peterson. Laurie Penny, Longreads, "Peterson’s Complaint," 12 July 2018 There are the words that get attached to women in Wind Gap who don’t fit into certain archetypes, as Camille tells the Kansas City detective (Chris Messina) investigating the murders. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Twisted, Enthralling Rot of Sharp Objects," 7 July 2018 Nelson is your archetype offensive lineman, a man of few words who talks team not self. Zak Keefer, Indianapolis Star, "From picked on to punishing: The story of new Colt Quenton Nelson," 27 Apr. 2018 Which makes his job a workforce archetype found in every imaginable field. Author: David Segal, Anchorage Daily News, "Tough job: Norway’s ski wax chief is only noticed when he fails," 14 Feb. 2018 This teenage detective became the archetype of a kind of tough American woman: smart and fierce in the face of violence, but also well-respected by police and her doting father. Jennifer Fisher, Smithsonian, "The Adventurous Writer Who Brought Nancy Drew To Life," 2 July 2018 That was a theme that would have appealed to the historians and poets of classical Rome who found in the story of Romulus’s killing of his brother Remus the archetype of multiple acts of civil violence. Greg Woolf, WSJ, "‘Rome: A History in Seven Sackings’ Review: The City That Survived," 29 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'archetype.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of archetype

1545, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for archetype

Latin archetypum, from Greek archetypon, from neuter of archetypos archetypal, from archein + typos type

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5 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for archetype

The first known use of archetype was in 1545

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More Definitions for archetype


ar·​che·​type | \ˈär-ki-ˌtīp \

Medical Definition of archetype 

1a : a primitive generalized plan of structure deduced from the characters of a natural group of plants or animals and assumed to be the characteristic of the ancestor from which they are all descended

b : the original ancestor of a group of plants or animals

2 : an inherited idea or mode of thought in the psychology of C. G. Jung that is derived from the experience of the race and is present in the unconscious of the individual

Other Words from archetype

archetypal \ˌär-​ki-​ˈtī-​pəl \ adjective

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Comments on archetype

What made you want to look up archetype? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move with a clumsy heavy tread

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